E-commerce platform ShopClues, which launched its first offline store in Lucknow last year, is planning to ramp up its brick-and-mortar presence. The brand is betting big on the online-offline hybrid model and is looking forward to opening more physical stores in Tier III cities and beyond.
“Customers in Tier III and IV still prefer to shop in stores. Despite increasing Internet penetration, customers in small towns are still not as comfortable shopping online as they are visiting stores. Our physical presence gives an assurance to the consumer and builds trust for the brand. They also act as a points-of-service, points-of-return, delivery centres and mini-warehouses in these areas,” says Ritika Taneja, Head Category Management at ShopClues.
“An online-offline hybrid model is the best concept for penetrating the Tier III, IV and rural markets in India,” she adds.
ShopClues, the brand which has always believed in the marketplace model, is India’s first online firm to set up an offline store using the FOFO (Franchisee-owned Franchisee-operated) model in rural markets.
“A FOFO model enables us to partner with multiple SMBs and helps us grow along with them. This model works best because the owners of stores are people from that area and they understand the requirements, culture and purchase patterns of the region. This then helps in building a long-term and successful business,” Taneja states.
Currently, ShopClues has a total of 13 stores, out of which 8 stores are direct franchisees of ShopClues and 5 are through affiliate partner network.
“ShopClues plans to pursue both routes – direct franchisee and affiliate partner network – aggressively. Direct franchisee stores reduce our dependence on other players and help build our overall retail ecosystem. We have been working well with affiliate partners over the last 12 months and have been able to build significant traction through affiliate model as well. Affiliate partners also give us access to geographies and areas where our offline stores may not reach immediately. It’s all about reaching the customer first,” she states.
The brand is targeting Orissa and North-Eastern states for further offline expansion in phase II.
“All our initiatives are directed towards becoming more relevant to our customer base. ShopClues is planning to venture further into the refurbished segment expanding the assortment from just mobiles into other categories as well. The future plans are to continue expanding into areas where our target audience is present,” she concludes.